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Sticking to your plan: The role of present bias for credit card paydown

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  • Kuchler, Theresa
  • Pagel, Michaela

Abstract

We use data from an online financial service to show that many consumers fail to stick to their self-set debt paydown plans. This behavior is best explained by present bias. Our empirical approach is informed by a parsimonious model showing that the sensitivity of spending to paycheck receipt reflects a present-biased agents short-run impatience, and that this sensitivity is reduced by available resources only for agents who are aware (sophisticated) of their future impatience. Classifying users accordingly, we find that (i) sophisticated users debt paydown decreases with short-run impatience, and that (ii) planned paydown is most predictive of actual paydown for sophisticated users.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuchler, Theresa & Pagel, Michaela, 2021. "Sticking to your plan: The role of present bias for credit card paydown," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(2), pages 359-388.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:139:y:2021:i:2:p:359-388
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2020.08.002
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit card paydown; Present bias; Hyperbolic discounting; Sophistication; Naivete;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G51 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - Household Savings, Borrowing, Debt, and Wealth
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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